Left Justified: I admit, I was wrong

By Stanley Campbell

I make mistakes. Too many, it seems.

The latest includes what I said in last week’s article about Haiti relief. The Rev. Dr. Sam Dixon, head of the humanitarian relief agency of The United Methodist Church (known as UMCOR), died before he could be rescued from the rubble of a hotel destroyed by the earthquake. I’d reported that he’d made it out alive.

The executive officer of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) was part of a group of mission and relief specialists that were already in Haiti, checking up on their many projects. They were trapped by the collapse of the Hotel Montana.

Other people in the group of six, including two more from the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries, were rescued and were back in the U.S. by the morning of Jan. 16. The group was pinned down for more than 55 hours. Dixon was reportedly alive in the hotel ruins on the morning of Jan. 15.

Misreporting rescues and deaths is a common mistake, although very regrettable. In the heat of a disaster, many mistakes are made.

I’ve made many more: getting angry at friends, accusing people of things they didn’t do, running off at the mouth when I should be contemplating the good things people have done for me. For that, I am heartfully sorry, and vow to do better.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that mistakes are made under pressure—when time, and especially money, are short. Lord knows if I had more time to research my facts, I’d be a much better, even healthier, person.

So please, do some research, especially with giving donations. Don’t respond to the first telephone call/e-mail, but check out who does good work, and what others are doing. Let me repeat a warning from last week’s column:

The FBI warns Internet users who receive requests for charitable donations on behalf of earthquake victims to “apply a critical eye and do their due diligence” before responding. “Past tragedies and natural disasters have prompted individuals with criminal intent to solicit contributions purportedly for a charitable organization and/or a good cause.”

And I’d like you to be as equally as critical when reviewing our upcoming candidates for the Feb. 2 election. I know I am behind in my research, and haven’t even discovered who’s on the ballot in my districts, much less what they stand for, and if they agree or disagree with me on issues.

And the local issues are land management and the option of keeping video slot machines outside of our communities. Nope, I would say I am behind in my work.

And I want to close with a tip of my hat to the League of Women Voters for their fine array of candidate forums, where we at least got a chance to see what they looked like.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

From the Jan. 27-Feb. 2, 2010 issue

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